Road Trip Ahead! What Do I Pack?

You’ve scheduled your next adventure and couldn’t be more excited. And then it hits you—what do I pack?

If you’re hitting the road for several weeks or months, it’s important to pack smart…or suffer the consequences. Prepping for a long trip is truly an art—one that you’ll need to learn if you want to avoid hauling around unnecessary items, or forgetting truly important belongings.

In this post, we’ll cover both what to pack, and how to pack for a long trip. Get ready. Now is the time to start preparing for your next road trip!

Step 1: Plan Your Clothing Options

Walterboro, South Carolina, small-town America © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When packing for a long trip, it can be overwhelming to think about the different outfits you’ll need on your adventure. By following a few of these tips you’ll feel better about packing light and packing smart.

Opt for Neutral Colors

Rent an e-bike © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The key to packing light is to create a variety of outfits with the clothes you choose to bring. You’d be surprised at how many different combinations a few pairs of pants, several shirts, and a jacket can yield!

Try and stick to more neutral colors. That way, everything should match and you’ll cut down on the amount of clothes you’re hauling along.

Do Some Research

Grasslands Nature Trail at Padre Island National Seashore, Texas © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The type of trip you’re taking will impact what type of clothing you bring. About a week before you leave, check the weather to see what type of temperatures you can expect. Packing layers is almost always a safe bet, especially if you plan on visiting a variety of climates or the Sunbelt during winter months.

Shoes Should Be Comfortable

Hiking Catalina State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We’re big believers in packing shoes that are comfortable.

When it comes to shoes, plan for the three W’s: walking, working, and weather. Walking shoes should be supportive, and could include anything from tennis shoes to hiking boots. Work shoes are a tad nicer, and could be worn for special occasions. And finally, weather refers to the type of climate you’ll be visiting—so think snow boots versus rain boots.

Step 2: Remember All Your Accessories

Horseback riding at Lost Dutchman State Park, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While you definitely don’t want to pack too many accessories, there’s no doubt that a few key items should make the packing list. Here are a few things you can’t forget.

Sunglasses Are a Must

Dauphin Island, Alabama © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When hitting the road in your RV, you’ll a good pair of sunglasses, regardless of whether you’re heading to the beaches or to the mountains. No one wants to stare into the sun for hours on end, not to mention that driving without sunglasses can be dangerous. Do yourself (and your eyes!) a favor and remember your shades.

Bring a Backpack

Hiking to Clingmans Dome, Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Planning on hiking? Checking out some local shops? Grab your backpack—it will definitely come in handy!

Hiking the Appalachian Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When taking a long trip, you might not have every day planned to a tee. That is why backpacks are great—they can accommodate any last minute excursions. We recommend water resistant, so you can take it anywhere and everywhere.

Step 3: Don’t Forget the Entertainment

Hiking Thumb Butte Trail, Prescott, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Long trips mean a lot of time spent in your RV. And while conversation and the open road are great, it’s helpful to have some sort of entertainment for when things get a little slow.

Podcast and Audio Books

Canoeing near Orlando, Florida © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

To pass the time, make sure to pile a few books on your phone or e-reader, along with some podcasts. Audiobooks are great too, especially if you tend to get motion sick reading in a moving vehicle.

Last But Not Least, Know Where You’re Going

Quail Gate State Park, Utah © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Okay, okay. You likely have a destination in mind. But if you’re heading out for months on end, you might want to bring along a few suggestions.

Now hit the road already!

Worth Pondering…

When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.

On the Road Again: RV Travel the Hot Post-Coronavirus Travel Trend

America is slowly but surely reopening for business

As the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak winds down, everyone is thinking about their next adventure. However, many are wary of crowded spaces. Many travelers will be replacing journeys to big cities with trips to smaller towns closer to home. But what if there was a way to see the country without stepping foot inside an airport or hotel? Welcome to the world of RV travel!

Utah Scenic Byway 279 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Campers and RVs have been around for a long time. Covered wagons pulled by horses were technically the first campers ever. While the history of the RV is somewhat up for debate, the Smithsonian states that the first RV was unveiled in 1910 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Called the Touring Landau, it was quite luxurious for the time and even included a sink with running water. It was for sale at $8,250 dollars.

New River Gorge National River, West Virginia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From there, the industry was off and running. As America developed its roadways and as national and state parks were established the drive for adventure had people hitting the road in record numbers. From Dutchmen and Shasta to Airstream and Winnebago, recreational vehicles were suddenly everywhere.

Botany Bay Plantation Road, South Carolina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RVs are now more popular than ever. Whether it’s buying your own or renting RVs through sites like Cruise America the old notion that RVing is only for snowbird retirees has gone out the window.

Geauga County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And why shouldn’t RVs be popular with people of all ages? If you include the price of your plane ticket, plus nightly hotel charges, RV travel is cheaper, plus, you get to sleep in the great outdoors. Camping in a national or state park and hearing the sounds of nature is a great way to add a whole new dimension of adventure to your road trip. Another benefit that many travelers love is that most campgrounds are pet-friendly so nobody in the family gets left behind.

Brasstown Bald Scenic Byway, Georgia © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s nothing better than having your own space to come back to after a day of hiking or biking, lounging on the beach, or exploring a recreation area. Shower up, cook your own meal, relax with your favorite book or show, and settle down in your own bed. An RV is your self-contained home on wheels and gives you plenty of choices about how your travel experience looks and feels.

Historic Route 66 between Kingman and Oatman, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A great road trip is more than getting from point A to point B. It functions as a restart button; a cruise control for the mind. But it’s also a chance to gain inspiration, connect with a corner of the world different than your own, and make lasting memories.

Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Here we provide suggestions for four road trips that wind through backroads, small towns, natural wonders, historical markers, quirky sites, and unforgettable views. Whether you’re searching for rural charm or a history refresher, these trips encourage you to stop along the way and take your time. Or maybe you don’t want anything out of a road trip other than an empty path, a warm breeze, and the sweet taste of freedom.

Either way—let’s hit the road.

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Known as one of the nation’s best and most beautiful drives, the Blue Ridge Parkway runs for 469 miles across Virginia and North Carolina. It follows the Appalachian Mountains—the Blue Ridge chain, specifically—from Shenandoah National Park in the north to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the south. Because the Blue Ridge Parkway connects two national parks, it’s easy to visit both during your drive.

Creole Nature Trail, Louisiana

Creole Nature Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Creole Nature Trail, one of only 43 All-American Roads in the U.S., runs 180 miles through three National Wildlife Refuges. The main route is U-shaped with spur roads along the Gulf shoreline and angling into other reserves like Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge and the Peveto Woods Bird and Butterfly Sanctuary. This is the Louisiana Outback.

Coulee Corridor Scenic Byway, Washington

Smokian RV Resort on Soap Lake © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Take a drive on the Coulee Corridor Scenic Byway, an amazing 150-mile road trip revealing the story of the Ice Age floods when vast reservoirs of water flooded and receded from this valley hundreds of times. Between three state parks, a national wildlife refuge, visits to the Grand Coulee Dam and Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, you’ll find something for the whole family.

Scenic Byway 12, Utah

Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One of the most beautiful stretches of road in the US, Scenic Byway 12 spans 124 miles in Utah’s red-rock country. The history and culture of the area blend together, making Scenic Byway 12 a journey like no other. Scenic Byway 12 has two entry points. The southwestern gateway is from U.S. Highway 89, seven miles south of the city of Panguitch, not far from Bryce Canyon National Park. The northeastern gateway is from Highway 24 in the town of Torrey near Capitol Reef National Park.

Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

Tips to Help You Plan Your Post-Coronavirus Road Trip

Everyone has a touch of cabin fever after the worldwide COVID-19 (coronavirus) lockdowns. So it’s no surprise that people want to travel soon. But you’ll want to consider a few new strategies to protect yourself and others.

Rethinking RV travel and changing your perceptions is the key to getting the most out of your next camping adventure. Yes, driving trips are still possible, but the road rules are a little different for now.

Highway 12 Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A good driving trip can teach you something important for your mental health: The world is huge and most of it thrives without the slightest concern for human headlines. As lockdown orders end and isolation recommendations ease, the number of travelers on the roads will increase.

Yes, RV road trips are safe—as long as you take steps to protect both yourself and others.

US-321 between Gatlinburg and Townsend in East Tennessee © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Road trips in 2020 are not like the road trips that came before. This year requires a bit more planning and patience, not just for your own health but to protect other people as well. If you’re planning a road trip—even one that only lasts a few days—you’ll need to consider several new strategies. Don’t worry. The scenery is the same.

Bring hand sanitizer

Francis Beider Forest, South Carilina © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s not possible to have a road trip and not touch anything. You’ll be handling fuel pumps, money at check-outs, credit card/debit terminals, the doorknobs of gas station washrooms, and lots of other unexpected things.

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Carry a big bottle of sanitizer in your RV and toad—and keep it out of sight because amazingly there have been cases of muggings and burglary in which hand sanitizer was the target. So hide the stuff as if it were money. For that matter, you might also consider bringing some toilet paper in case some lout ahead of you stole what the gas station had.

Drive carefully

Applegate River Valley, Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This sounds like standard advice, but these aren’t standard times. People are not driving normally right now. Traffic-free conditions bring out the worst in drivers who think they don’t have to observe the rules anymore. Some locales have even adjusted the timings on stoplights to enforce traffic calming on overenthusiastic drivers.

Holmes County, Ohio © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Other drivers are traveling slower or more erratic because they’re stressed or they haven’t been behind the wheel much in a while. Even steady drivers are feeling taut as drums because they’re afraid of getting in an accident that will send them to the belly of the beast—i.e., the ER.

Whitehall, New York © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

To preserve your sanity and to keep ambulances working on more important jobs, maintain the speed limit and put ample distance between you and the other vehicles on the road.

Plan RV parks ahead of time

River Run RV Park, Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Don’t assume you can find last-minute RV parks and campgrounds as you travel. It may be possible in some areas but not as easy as it was previously. RV parks are operating in a different way these days. Two new wrinkles affect road trips in particular: Not all private RV parks and public campgrounds are open and not all of them are accepting reservations from non-essential workers and overnight RVers.

On-Ur-Way RV Park, Onowa, Iowa © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So plan your route and nail down your campgrounds ahead of time. (Aren’t you glad you brought that extra toilet paper now?)

Maintain social distance

Bluegrass Country, Kentucky © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Your RV is your domain. You don’t need to worry much about new pathogens appearing in there. But whenever you step outside, Pandemic Rules go back in effect. Keep your distance from everyone.

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refufe, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You’ll need to pack more patience. You may need to wait longer for a scenic viewpoint to empty out. You may need to pass on popular hiking trails that don’t provide enough space. But you will find alternatives—a parking spot that’s a little farther down the road, a vantage point that few others have discovered, and unexpected hidden gems.

Mount Lemmon, Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We still may not have a cure-all for what’s troubling our bodies, but travel has always been a panacea for troubled minds.

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”

National Parks Week: Teetering in the Unknown

From Shenandoah and Arches to Joshua Tree National Park these scenic drives are worth the trip

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has impacted RV travel right now. As RVers, travel is our way of life and, if you’re like us, you’re feeling the frustration of being limited to one location without the freedom to travel. 2020 is certainly presenting new challenges and now, more than ever, we realize that the freedom to travel is something we can’t take for granted. Now is a great time to start thinking of places you’d like to go—especially national parks.

Lassen Volcanic National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The late travel icon Anthony Bourdain might have said it best: “Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.” It’s about that friction of nervous excitement, that exultant moment, giving way to revelation as you open your senses to somewhere different and new. That’s the mark of an RV trip well taken.

White National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“Teetering in the unknown” doesn’t necessarily mean winging it—you need to know where to go before you actually go and just as important the why and the when. That’s where we come in. We littered our motorhome with maps to find the three coolest road trips in honor of National Parks Week.

Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Shenandoah National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The state of Virginia is home to Shenandoah National Park set along the Blue Ridge Mountains in the western part of the state. The park features a range of environments including forests, wetlands, and mountain peaks as well as waterfalls, hiking trails, picnic areas, and wildlife.

Scenic Drive

Shenandoah National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Starting at the Front Royal Entrance, you’ll get to the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center in about four miles. Take in the view and make plans for hikes to take and waterfalls to see. Skyline Drive is the starting point for a variety of hiking trails many of which permit dogs making Shenandoah one of the most pet-friendly national parks.

If You’re Not a Hiker

Shenandoah National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You’ll very likely spot wildlife like bears, deer, groundhogs, or wild turkeys crossing the road from your car and many overlooks from the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains provide stunning views.

Scenic Drive, Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In southeastern Utah, near the town of Moab, is a wonderland of more than 2,000 sandstone arches, set in a picturesque landscape of soaring fins and spires. The arches come in all sizes, ranging from an opening of only three feet to the 306-foot span of Landscape Arch, one of the largest in North America.

Scenic Drives

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The 18-mile Scenic Drive climbs a steep cliff and winds along the arid terrain along the first amazing glimpses of red rock features. The road initially passes the Park Avenue area and then Courthouse Towers. The road then comes to the rolling landscape of Petrified Dunes before arriving at Balanced Rock, where a 55-foot-high boulder sits precariously on a narrow pedestal.

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Turnoffs lead to the Windows section and Wolfe Ranch and the Delicate Arch viewpoints. Once again on the main road, the Scenic Drive provides overlooks for Salt Valley and Fiery Furnace. Fiery Furnace is home to a fascinating labyrinth of ridges and narrow canyons. The Scenic Drive ends at Devil’s Garden area, site of the park’s campground and the trailhead for the popular Devils Garden Trail.

If You’re Not a Hiker

Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A landscape of contrasting colors, landforms, and textures unlike any other in the world, the park also features massive sandstone fins, giant balanced rocks, and hundreds of towering pinnacles—all in vibrant oranges, reds, and other colors.

Geology Tour Road, Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park is located in southeastern California about an hour east of Palm Springs. Named for the twisted trees that reminded early Mormon settlers of arms reaching up in prayer, Joshua Tree includes parts of both the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. Striking rock formations, boulders, and varied terrain make Joshua Tree popular with hikers, campers, and rock climbers. The weather ranges from very hot summers to colder winters and occasional snow.

Scenic Drives

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park can be entered from the north at either Joshua Tree or Twenty-nine Palms. From the south the entrance is from I-10 and the first Visitor Center is at Cottonwood. Stop at the Cholla Cactus Garden where you can walk (carefully) on a path among the prickly cacti. Geology Tour Road is an 18-mile drive through some of the park’s most fascinating landscapes. The Keys View detour takes you to an elevation of 5,185 feet for views of the Coachella Valley, Salton Sea, and San Jacinto Peak.

If You’re Not a Hiker

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You’ll be surrounded by views of rocks, hills, Joshua Trees, and more on the drive through the park. The panoramic sights from Keys View can be seen from the parking area.

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Roads were made for journeys, not destinations.

—Confucius

Snowbird Essential: Planning Your North-South Travel Route

Exploring the popular north-to-south Snowbird RV travel routes

Many snowbirds are north-south creatures, meaning those from the American Northwest and Western Canada tend to settle in Arizona, Nevada, and California; those from the Midwest and Central Canada flock to Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana; and those from the Northeast and Eastern Canada head for Florida.

A successful—and stress free—trip requires a little homework before you leave. Regardless of your journey, factor in the drive times and travel expenses.

Bellingham (Washington) RV Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In an earlier post we discussed keys to planning a successful and stress-free snowbird RV route with tips for traveling the two most popular East Coast routes—Interstates 95 and 75. In today’s post we explore the main routes for snowbird RV travel from the Northwest.

Snowbirds who RV south for the winter from the northwest have a choice of several routes with most opting for I-5 or 1-15 for a major portion of the journey.

La Conner, Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The main West Coast highway, Interstate 5, runs all the way from the British Columbia-Washington border at the Peace Arch south of Vancouver to southern California. It connects most of the major cities from Seattle and Portland to Los Angeles and San Diego. It largely parallels Highway 101 and California Route 1, or more famously known as the Pacific Coast Highway.

Columbia River RV Park, off I-5 in southern Washington © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Two major sight-seeing destinations are only short side trips from Interstate 5 in Washington. Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an icon in the Washington landscape.

Mount St. Helens © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Another interesting side trip from I-5 would be a visit to Mount St. Helens…or what’s left of it, I should say! To me, it was intriguing to see half of a mountain standing in a spot where a WHOLE mountain should have been. You’ll find an attractive visitor’s center in which you may view interpretive exhibits and see a film about the volcanic explosion at Mount St Helens.

Las Vegas RV Resort © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Joining the intermountain west with the desert southwest, Interstate 15 provides a major link between the interior of Canada, several transcontinental east-west corridors, Southern California, and Mexico. Travelers westbound on Interstates 40, 70 and 80 may easily transition to southbound I-15 to connect to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Between these destinations, I-15 is an extremely busy highway, frequently backing up on holiday weekends in the Mojave Desert.

Old Town Temecula © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Between San Diego and Temecula, Interstate 15 replaced U.S. 395. U.S. 395 largely still exists today as a busy expressway route from Spokane, Washington south to Reno, Mammoth Lakes and Hesperia.

Ambassador RV Park, Caldwell, Idaho © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But many RVers ask, “Isn’t there a better route?” That seems to be a common question on RV forums.

Although friends have shared little short-cuts with us (such as leaving I-15 at Dillon and going 41/55 to Whitehall and 69 into Boulder, avoiding the big climb to Butte), the result of our conversations and research have shown few strong alternatives to the I-15.

Helena, Montana © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Its winter, we’re not interested in the icy scenery and we just want to get out of the cold. Getting there is not half the fun. All of this points to the I-15 as the best Snowbird path south from Alberta, Montana, and eastern Idaho.

Snowbirds from the Midwest often use Interstate 35 and a combination of several other interstates and secondary highways to reach their Sunbelt roost.

Angel Lake RV Park, Wells, Nevada © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plotting a route using mapping software or relying exclusively on a GPS generally produces the fastest or shortest route, which isn’t necessarily the best winter driving route for RVs.

7 Feathers Casino RV Resort, off I-5 in Oregon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Watch the weather and road reports. Leave when you have a three-day window of good weather and clear roads. Mountain driving, with its steep grades and hairpin turns, can be scary enough in the summer especially for those accustomed to gunbarrel-straight highways. However, it’s really the ice and snow that are the big concern.

Durango RV Resort in Red Bluff, off I-5 in northern California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you get caught in a winter storm, wait it out and give the road crews time to clear the highway. Drive carefully leaving extra room between vehicles and allow extra time to stop.

Buck Owens Crystal Palace in Bakersfield, California © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If the weather looks like it will be getting bad, or becomes terrible overnight, then stay put. Much better to spend an extra day in a campground than in a cold RV stranded on a snow-bound highway.

Worth Pondering…

When Robert Frost declared his intention to take the road less traveled in his 1916 poem “The Road Not Taken,” who could have guessed that so many people would take the same trip?

The Absolute Best Places to RV This September

A late summer getaway will make September’s arrival a bit easier to accept

September is a phenomenally underrated month for travel. People seem to disqualify it because they associate it with childhood anxiety about summer ending and going back to school.

Sure, summer is over on paper, but September ushers in that all-too-brief summer sweet spot where surge pricing has ended while sunshine, festival season, and warm nights remain. In places all over the country, September vacations mean cheaper prices, better weather, and much smaller crowds.

Here are the best of them, for your consideration.

And be sure to catch up on all our recommendations for the best places to visit in June, July, and August.

Kentucky

Woodford Reserve Distillery © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

For starters, September means the return of the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival to Bardstown. Each of those six days is loaded with bourbon tastings, mixology classes, art displays, car shows, and food vendors, which works out to like, 746 things to do in total.

Old Talbot Tavern in Barbstown © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The events are a mix of ticketed and free, and there is a designated Family Fun Area with train rides to distract the children while you enjoy your jazz and cigars.

Bluegrass Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Then, later in the month and less than an hour away, you have Louisville’s Bourbon & Beyond, a bourbon, music, and food festival. And despite the theme, it’s open to anyone aged 5 and up.

Gaffney, South Carolina

Gaffney Peachoid © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Just outside of Gaffney, west of where SR-11 crosses over I-85, the route’s colorful and scenic sightseeing begins at the unique “Peachoid.” Towering at 135 feet, the Peachoid is actually a water tower for the town of Gaffney that’s been realistically painted to look like a giant peach perched high in the sky. The color of the peach is remarkably like the palette changes of oaks, hickories, maples, and more during their varied stages of fall colors.

Cowpens National Battlefield © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Continuing on SR-11, worthwhile stops before Jones Gap State Park include Cowpens National Battlefield, a fascinating Revolutionary War site, and Campbell’s Covered Bridge (the only remaining covered bridge in the state.

Marietta, Ohio

Marietta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This charming riverboat town showcases the first city in Ohio and the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory. Since then, Marietta has blossomed into a revitalized main street community known for great food, eclectic shops, and historic hotels. The fun doesn’t end there. There is outdoor adventure galore to be found. Two Rivers, a National Forest and a variety of parks, refuges and wetlands surround the area.

Marietta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In addition to self-guided tours of the town and trips on the Valley Gem sternwheeler, you can take trolley tours and Hidden Marietta ghost tours.

Marietta © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The marquee event is the free 44th annual Ohio River Sternwheel Festival, which brings 30-plus paddleboats and 100,000 visitors to town September 6-8 (2019); activities include Sunday boat races.

Lodi, California

Lodi © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lying at the edge of the Sacramento River Delta, Lodi enjoys a classic Mediterranean climate of warm days and cool evenings, ideal for growing wine grapes. For decades, Lodi has been producing an astounding amount of wine grapes for countless wineries throughout California.

Lodi Wine Country © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Wander historic downtown Lodi with century-old brick buildings, brick-cobbled streets lined with elm trees and turn-of-the-century light poles. You’ll love this area and the way the city has maintained its history and heritage. Many unique shops, restaurants, and more than a dozen wine tasting boutiques and exciting restaurants.

Louisiana

St. Martinsville © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In Louisiana, fall’s arrival is signaled by many things: cheers of “Geaux Tigers” and “Who Dat,” large black pots of steaming gumbo and a calendar jam-packed with fairs and festivals. There are many great fall festivals dedicated to Louisiana’s delicious foods. In Natchitoches, the Meat Pie Festival in mid-September takes place in the historic downtown next to Cane River Lake.

Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Head over to the Lake Charles area for the Boudin Wars in Sulphur, where local chefs and restaurants battle for the title of best boudin. Sample a wide variety of the tasty Cajun sausage and vote for the winner.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Admire the grandeur and wonders of the Grand Canyon, a powerful and inspiring landscape that overpowers our senses through its immense size. You won’t find similar mixtures of color and erosional formations anywhere else.

Grand Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The canyon is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and about a mile deep, according to the National Park Service. Just about everywhere you look the views are amazing and the sheer size of it can be overwhelming.

Worth Pondering…

Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast—you miss the sense of where you’re going and why.

—Eddie Cantor

Most Scenic Road Trips in America

These drives aren’t just a road to someplace scenic they are jaw-dropping on their own and will have you constantly looking for places to pull over so you can take more photos

These drives aren’t just a road to something beautiful, they are jaw-dropping on their own.

“To everyone in this country, the car represents freedom, mobility, and the control you feel over your destiny/destination,” said Callie Khouri, Oscar-winning screenwriter of Thelma & Louise.

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

From the dramatic California coast to history-lined thoroughfares of New England, there are countless scenic drives across the country—and some stellar standouts. We’ve picked the routes with heart-stopping vistas. For example, the winding Blue Ridge Parkway, now over 75 years old, winds its way past limestone caverns, clear mountain springs, and Appalachian majesty.

So round up the family, prep the RV, and hit the road. In Khouri’s words—go see what America tastes like.

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina and Virginia

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The nearly 500 miles of blacktop twisting through the Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah national parks was built for travelers seeking Appalachian overlooks. It’s a panoramic drive for all seasons, with undulating slopes of color in autumn, a bounty of forest canopy in summer, and hot-cider ski resorts in winter.

Blue Ridge Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Stop: In the mines of the mineral-rich Appalachian Mountains, visitors can pan for emeralds, amethyst, rubies, topaz, and even gold at Emerald Village (Milepost 334).

Route 12, Utah

Highway 12 Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The red rock majesty of Utah is on triumphant display on State Route 12 winding between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon national parks. The 124-mile strip has funky small towns and very few entry points, so it takes a map and determination to witness the steep sandstone canyons and bluffs of purple sage, and to tackle the narrow cliff-hanging ridgeline road called The Hogback.

Highway 12 Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Stop: The log-and-sandstone Kiva Koffeehouse in Escalante supplies travelers with art, coffee, and views of Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument.

Iron Mountain Road, South Dakota

Iron Mountain Road © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What seems like a long bike ride is actually one of the most picturesque portions of pavement in the country and it’s surrounded by fun things to do. Officially known as US Route 16A the Iron Mountain Road twists and turns through a portion of Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Iron Mountain Road © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Stop: The Mount Rushmore National Memorial is the crown-jewel of an Iron Mountain Road trip.

Ocean Drive, Newport, Rhode Island

Ocean Drive © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The 10-mile coastal route packs in historic mansions and spectacular views over Narragansett Bay. The Gilded Age “cottages” of Ocean Drive compete with maritime scenery for jaw-dropping splendor, including opulent homes built for titans of industry, the Vanderbilts, Astors, and Morgans.

The Breakers on Ocean Drive © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Stop: War buffs can visit historic Fort Adams which garrisoned soldiers for more than 125 years.

Cherohala Skyway, North Carolina and Tennessee

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Travel the Cherohala Skyway and enjoy panoramic vistas as you wind through the Southern Appalachian high country. It winds up and over 5,400 foot mountains for 18 miles in North Carolina and descend another 23 miles into the deeply forested back country of Tennessee. The road crosses through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests thus the name “Chero…hala”.Peak colors typically occur during the last two weeks in October.

Cherohala Skyway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Stop: The Cherohala Skyway Visitor Center in Tellico Plains is a “must stop” before starting up the Skyway. Stop by for free maps, Skyway driving conditions and local area souvenirs and gifts.

Gold Rush Trail, California

Sutter Creek © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The California Gold Rush expended 125 million troy ounces of gold, worth more than $50 billion by today’s standards. It is estimated that more than 80 percent of the gold in the Mother Lode is still in the ground. Many of the historic and picturesque towns that developed in the area still exist, linked by California Highway 49, the Gold Rush Trail.

Placerville © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Stop: Hangtown, which has since been renamed Placerville, is where the famous “Hangtown Fry” was invented and is still featured on many local menus. An omelet with cheese, bacon, onions, and oysters, the first Hangtown Fry was whipped up during the height of the Gold Rush when a suddenly successful miner demanded, “the most expensive food you’ve got!”

Worth Pondering…

Nothing says summer travel like a road trip, whether you’re venturing to a nearby favorite spot or setting out in search of distant adventures.

Your Ultimate Guide to Planning the Best Summer Road Trip

Map your route, discover amazing places, and hit the road…

Think of 10 people you know. This year, eight of them will take a road trip, that staple of the American vacation.

That’s what research from the American Automobile Association tells us. And that’s what those columns of RVs and cars on the interstates from coast to coast tell us. The call of the RV is more powerful than ever, promising relaxation, family fun, scenic drives, and unusual sights, the stuff of a rich stew of memories.

But where to go and what to do?

Custer State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

As you prepare for your trip, remember that at the end of the day, a campground or RV park is waiting to welcome your family. Could there be a sweeter end to the day providing you made your reservation well in advance?

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Custer State Park, South Dakota

Custer State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many people visit South Dakota to see the wondrous Mount Rushmore or Badlands National Park, but hidden within the southwestern Black Hills is Custer State Park. Touted as one of the nation’s most recognized wildlife refuges, you’ll see free-roaming herds of bison, elk, and bighorn sheep wandering its 71,000 acres.

Custer State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Travelers are encouraged to drive the park’s scenic byways and loops, as well as seek out its amazing granite peaks via hiking, biking, and horseback. Complete the day by taking a dip in the clear waters of Sylvan Lake, a favorite amongst photographers and artists.

Newport, Rhode Island

Ocean Drive, Newport, Rhode Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Nowhere in New England compares to the Gilded-Age splendor of Newport, a coastal town set upon cliffs dotted with some of the most spectacular mansions of the 19th century. The must-do activity here is, obviously, touring the Newport Mansions, but that’s far from the only draw.

The Breakers, Newport, Rhode Island © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Newport also hosts the annual Newport Regatta, one of the biggest sailing races in America bringing with it the best sailing parties. Held in July, the Regatta is the ideal time of year to visit, but even if you miss it there are still plenty of wide, sandy beaches to lounge on for the day, and a surprisingly good wine region just on the outskirts of town. 

Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

Bay St. Louis © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Bay St. Louis motto is as unique as the city itself: “A Place Apart.” In 2010 Bay St. Louis was listed as one of the Top 10 Beach Communities in the U.S. by Coastal Living Magazine. Budget Travel magazine named it one of the “Coolest Small Towns in America” in 2013 and Southern Living magazine named Bay St. Louis one of their 50 Best Places in the South in 2016.

Bay St. Louis © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Drive along the Bay and wander the pastel colored buildings and quaint, funky shops of historic Old Town Bay St. Louis including the “Depot,” a two-story building with mission style design. The train depot (c. 1928), is surrounded by park-like grounds.

Route 12, Utah

Highway 12 Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This, one of the most stunning roads in the world, runs from Capitol Reef National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. The route goes for 124 miles at significant altitudes (9,000 feet) and goes through forested mountains to the amazing bald mountains in Boulder.

Highway 12 Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

That’s where you should have lunch or dinner at the Hells Backbone Grill. From there the road begins following a narrow ridge along the red canyons of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bryce Canyon National Parks.

Mesilla, New Mexico

Mesilla © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Although the town of Mesilla, in Southern New Mexico, is home to a mere 2,196 people, it’s a fascinating place to visit. Here you’ll find well-preserved architecture, history worth delving into, and high quality restaurants.

Mesilla © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The plaza is the heart of Mesilla and that’s a good place to start exploring. In fact, it’s a national historic landmark. The San Albino Basilica dominates one side of the plaza. This Romanesque church was built in 1906 although its bells are older, dating back to the 1870s and 1880s.

Worth Pondering…

My favorite thing is to go where I’ve never been.
—Diane Arbus